By Our Reporter,
ENTEBBE. Entebbe Municipal Council leaders have demolished all perimeter walls and other illegal structures that stretch up to the buffer zones on the shores of Lake Victoria.
In an operation which was led by the Entebbe Division A chairman, Mike Mutebi with the enforcement team from Entebbe municipal council on Tuesday demolished all perimeter walls and other illegal structures that stretch up to the buffer zones on the lake shores located along Nambi Road in Entebbe municipality.
According to the National Environment Act 2019, Article 53 on Protection of riverbanks, lakeshores and natural beaches, the (1) The Authority shall, in collaboration with the relevant lead agency— (a) protect riverbanks and lakeshores from human activities likely to adversely affect the rivers, lakes and the living organisms therein; (b) protect naturally occurring islands existing in rivers or lakes from human activities likely to affect the rivers or the lakes; and (c) protect natural beaches of rivers and lakes and ensure their conservation for the benefit of the people of Uganda.
Here Authority refers to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) which is supposed to enforce the Act.
In this Act; (a) “lakeshore” means the land not more than 100 metres adjacent to or bordering a lake; and (b) “river bank” means the rising ground, not more than 100 metres long, bordering or adjacent to the natural course of a river in the form of rock, mud gravel or sand and in cases of flood plains includes the point where the water surface touches the land, that land not being the bed of the river.
According to Mutebi who led the operation said,” we have been receiving complaints from the community that they can longer access the buffer zones along Nambi road, developers don’t allow people to enjoy the breezes yet everyone is entitled to have access to the lake, they couldn’t even allow them to fetch water, some were arrested for trespassing and as leaders we couldn’t just sit and wait that why I had to go to the ground and demolish these structures so that people can enjoy the lake.” Mutebi said.
He also added that the operation is still going on,” We demolished structures along Nambi road but the operation is still going on even to other areas so let them just be prepared.” He added.
The Entebbe deputy mayor, Richard Ssekyondo, said that as municipal council, they decided to prioritise restoration of buffer zones in the financial year (2019/2020) and it had been in their plan, however this delayed due to budget cuts because the ministry of finance had cut their budget.
“All those who raised perimeter walls or structures stretching up to the lake shores must demolish them before we even come in, the operation began in Division A but soon even Division B we are coming therefore I advise them to demolish before we do so because we gave them enough time and there’s no need of warning letters as they claim.” Ssekyondo said.
He noted that there are guidelines developers must follow while setting up hotels and beaches, however, many ignore them and end up destroying the buffer zones.
“ Whoever plans to erect structures near the lake shores must seek approval from the municipal physical planning committee to ensure that the developments don’t endanger the environment,’’ Ssekyondo said.
John Wambuyi applauded the action by the municipal council and said,” This is a very good initiative right from Kigungu you can’t access any buffer zone we have to pay but really why would you make someone to pay just to sit around the buffer zones as if you are the one who owns the land? Let the operations go on because everyone is entitled to have free access to the lake.” He said.
However, Desire Njogo of Palm beach said,” This is really unfair because they would have given us a warning letter but not just coming and demolishing our property we used money to construct them.” He said. Some of the affected developments include Palm Beach, Gorreti’s Pizzeria Restaurant, and Saferon beach on Nambi road among others.
Tony Achidria, a senior public relations officer at NEMA, said environment management is a now decentralised function,” local authorities are empowered and mandated to handle all matters of the environment within their areas of operation. if he local leaders undertook the demolition while following the standard legal procedures as stipulated in the law, for instance giving sufficient notice to those affected, then what they did was right.” he said